Graduate Fellow

Enhancing the synthesis of new evolutionary models of fertility using new media

PI(s): Lomax Boyd (Duke University)
Greg Wray (Duke University)
Mary Shenk (University of Missouri)
Start Date: 25-Aug-2014
End Date: 30-Nov-2014
Keywords: behavior, cultural evolution, software, communication, database

Methods for accessing and visualizing data are crucial for synthesis research in the evolutionary sciences. New media technologies powered by modern web browsers provide a powerful, yet underutilized, platform for visualizing and presenting data in the service of synthesis. In collaboration with the Evolution of Fertility working group, this project seeks to apply methods in data-driven visualization within a web browser environment in order to promote the synthesis of evolutionary models underlying human fertility behavior. The working group is attempting to understand how ecological determinants of behavior combine with social learning and evolutionary psychology to produce human fertility behavior. Their synthesis of a unified evolutionary framework to understand fertility behavior integrates disparate datasets from proximate ecological factors to cultural evolutionary trends. This project will develop data-driven visualizations that provide user interactivity and cross-browser compatibility through the use of widely adopted web standards. I will develop easily accessible interactive data visuals representing the different modes of synthesis being used by the working group. Those elements will then be embedded within a larger media project composed of interviews with working group members and field site footage collected in Bangladesh in order to provide context and explanation. Web browser powered data visualization dissolves many of the technological hurdles to data access and visualization frequency encountered with proprietary software. New media approaches to data exploration can therefore help catalyze synthesis across fields.